Just so we’re all clear. There are going to be spoilers in this review. I know it should be implied but just in case you have NOT watched the season two finale, do not read this review yet. Go watch it and come back.
That being said, wow. That was not what I expected. At all. I’m still a little in shock. I’m not sure what I think. I know it makes sense in that world and I applaud the show for having the guts to do what they did. But I’m not sure I’m ready to live in a Jimmy Darmody-less Boardwalk Empire world.
Jimmy Darmody is dead. Killed at the hand of Nucky Thompson with the help of Manny Horowitz, Arnold Rothstein and Eli. Not only do we lose Jimmy but we lose Michael Pitt. Pitt was my favorite part of the show. He was completely compelling in every scene. He gave the show so much flare I suppose. I don’t always find Steve Buscemi 100 percent amazing and I certainly think the character of Nucky can be a bit of a bore. This episode is hard for me to digest. Jimmy Darmody was the most interesting and complex character on the show. A show that now has a huge void to fill.
Let’s take a second and isolate the events to the episode. After watching what happened to Jimmy in the end, it’s clear he knew what was coming. It’s brilliant actually. He tears up the will of his father and makes sure that his son is taken care of. He lets him go out on a horse ride by himself. In a great moment, the guide asks him, “Cowboy or soldier?” Jimmy’s son answers, “Soldier.” Like father like son. Perhaps the most telling moment before the deed was when he said goodbye to Richard Harrow. He tells him in drunken revelry to enjoy life. Richard says he’ll kill them all if he wants but Jimmy declines the offer. He knows what’s coming. He sort of embraces it. We saw how damaged he was last week by what his mother and the war had done to him. He never expected to come back from the war. That’s why he tells Nucky, “I died in that trench, years back. I thought you knew that.” Jimmy was a tortured soul and I won’t say he was looking for a way out but he sure didn’t fight it. He showed up to the meet with Nucky unarmed.
That scene between the two of them was so well shot. The whole episode was sweltering. Everyone was sweating and trying to cool down. They were fanning themselves, drinking water, loosening their ties. The heat was literally turned up for the entire episode. However, that confrontation was shot in an absolute downpour. It extinguished the heat. You have to love Jimmy trying to give some advice to Nucky on the way out about killing a guy for the first time. Jimmy urged Nucky in season one that he couldn’t be half of a gangster anymore. “No half measures,” if we want to quote Breaking Bad. It had to be Nucky to pull the trigger on Jimmy. We had to see that full transformation of Nucky.
It doesn’t mean I like it though. In an interview with Alan Sepinwall, Terrance winter said that he wanted people to be pissed off early in the hour. He wanted it to seem like they were going to kiss and make up and all would be forgiven. But there’s no way that in this world that could happen. This season finale sort of polarizes the Sons of Anarchy finale. You spend a whole season telling the audience something HAS to happen and then you go through with it. Very ballsy. Winter said he wanted to piss people off by making them think everything is going to be ok. I think he’ll piss a lot of people off by killing off the most dynamic part of the show. However, that anger will be present only in the short term. He stayed true to the show. True to the world he’s meticulously created.
It’s not as if Nucky gets off free in this episode. He pays quite a steep fine when Margaret catches him in a lie about what happened to Jimmy. She signs over the deed to the land that will make him richer than he already is over to the church. Nucky’s problems didn’t die with Jimmy. He married Margaret Schroeder to essentially save his life. He did a great job of lying to her saying it was all for the family. She may have only bought it slightly. I think she realizes this is the best of all evils. Nucky was counting on that money. We’ll see what’s left of that relationship when he finds out what she’s done.
It’s hard to think of anything else besides Darmody’s death. As soon as it happened I though, “Well the show’s over. There’s no more story to tell.” But that simply isn’t true. Agent Van Alden or rather “Mr. Mueller” ran away to Cicero where Al Capone really gets his crime going in the coming years. Chalky White is back in a position of power. Rothstein is being presented the heroin by Lucky and co. Eli is about to go to prison. Jimmy’s mother is still acting heir to the Commodore’s fortune I’d imagine until Nucky’s boy becomes of age. But most importantly, there’s still Richard Harrow. Winter said that unless these people are dead, they’re still a part of the Boardwalk universe. I have no idea where Season Three starts but I do know that it’ll be fresh and exciting but it’ll be dampened by the absence of Jimmy Darmody.
“To the lost.” – James Darmody